Adults and children age 12 and older
If you become mildly to moderately dehydrated while working outside or exercising:
- Stop your activity and rest.
- Get out of direct sunlight and lie down in a cool spot, such as in the shade or an air-conditioned area.
- Prop up your feet.
- Take off any extra clothes.
- Drink a rehydration drink, water, juice, or sports drink to replace fluids and minerals. Drink 2 qt (2 L) of cool liquids over the next 2 to 4 hours. You should drink at least 10 glasses of liquid a day to replace lost fluids. You can make an inexpensive rehydration drink at home. But do not give this homemade drink to children younger than 12. Measure all ingredients precisely. Small variations can make the drink less effective or even harmful. Mix the following:
- 1 quart water
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 6 teaspoons sugar
Rest and take it easy for 24 hours, and continue to drink a lot of fluids. Although you will probably start feeling better within just a few hours, it may take as long as a day and a half to completely replace the fluid that you lost.
Newborns and babies younger than 1 year of age
Don't wait until you see signs of dehydration in your baby. These signs include your baby being thirstier than usual and having less urine than usual.
- If you breastfeed your baby, nurse him or her more often. Offer each breast to your baby for 1 to 2 minutes every 10 minutes.
- If you use a bottle to feed your baby, increase the number of feedings to make up for lost fluids. The amount of extra fluid your baby needs depends on your baby's age and size. For example, a newborn may need as little as 1 fl oz (30 mL) at each extra feeding, while a 12-month-old baby may need as much as 3 fl oz (90 mL) at each extra feeding.
- Ask your doctor if you need to use an oral rehydration solution (ORS) if your baby still isn't getting enough fluids from formula or the breast. The amount of ORS your baby needs depends on your baby's age and size. You can give the ORS in a dropper, spoon, or bottle.
- If your baby has started eating cereal, you may replace lost fluids with cereal. You also may feed your baby strained bananas and mashed potatoes if your child has had these foods before.
Children ages 1 through 11
- Make sure your child is drinking often. Frequent, small amounts work best.
- Allow your child to drink as much fluid as he or she wants. Encourage your child to drink extra fluids or suck on flavored ice pops, such as Popsicles. Note: Do not give your child fruit juice or soda pop. Fruit juice and soda pop contain too much sugar and not enough of the essential minerals (electrolytes) that are being lost. Diet soda pop lacks calories that your child needs.
- Cereal mixed with milk or water may also be used to replace lost fluids.
- If your child still is not getting enough fluids, you can try an oral rehydration solution (ORS).
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
- More serious dehydration develops.
- Decreased alertness develops.
- You become dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you might faint when you rise from lying to sitting or from sitting to standing.
- Decreased urination develops.
- Symptoms become more severe or frequent.